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Conflicts of Interest Policy

Introduction

A conflict of interest occurs when an individual or organisation has an interest which may compromise their independence of judgment or impartiality and diligence in decision making. It is vital that In2Assessments activity at every level is seen to be independent and impartial and that any Conflicts of Interest, whether perceived or actual are identified and (where appropriate) mitigated.

Scope

This policy covers all individuals involved with In2Assessments and this includes:

  • Contacted EPA Assessors

  • Contracted Internal quality assurers

  • Contracted assessment authors

  • In2Assessments operational staff

  • Governance Committee Members

  • In2Assessments Directors (Governing Body)

  • Shared services arrangements between In2Assessments and IL In2Assessments are committed to ensuring assessment decisions relating to End-Point Assessment of the apprentice should not be the responsibility of any individual who has an interest in the result.

In addition, anyone who has been involved in training the apprentice will not be involved in end point assessment.

Purpose of Policy

In2Assessments recognises that employees and others, e.g. contractors, involved with In2Assessments may have other financial, business, charitable and other interests and activities outside In2Assessments.

This policy has therefor been put in place to demonstrate how In2Assessments ensure no conflicts of interest impact all decision making, including the assessment of EPA.

To ensure this happens, In2Assessments follow the following principles:

  • Identify and disclose – through the conflict-of-interest declaration, ensuring staff awareness and scenario planning.

  • Remove or prohibit the conflict – where there is conflict our first option will always be to remove the conflict. For example: is an assessor had previously been connected to a Training provider where In2Assessments where the EPAO we would not use them to assess the Training Providers Apprentices.

  • Agree to mitigate and manage the conflict of interest – for each potential or actual conflict of interest In2Assessments will ensure these are managed and mitigated. 

 

Properly managed, individuals with declared personal interests should be able to conduct their business without restriction; however, conflicts which are not properly managed could bring into question the reputation and validity of In2Assessments end-point assessments. It is In2Assessments policy to ensure all potential conflicts are disclosed and investigated before any work is carried out by the individual in question.

 

How individuals are made aware of the policy and how to declare

Individuals working with In2Assessments, for example within the roles above, will receive an induction on Conflicts of Interest and will receive a copy of the policy and will be required to complete a conflict-of-interest form.

Although it is impossible to predict every possible perceived or actual conflict of interest, In2Assessments conduct periodic reviews of conflicts that could occur and determine their mitigation, these are included in the tables at the end of the policy.

In addition, the conflict-of-interest declaration form includes some key questions that can help them consider conflicts of interest.

In2Assessments expectations of individuals

In2Assessments expects all individuals involved with them as an employee, committee member or director to be fully transparent with regard to any other interests that may be a perceived or real conflict of interest.

Any individual failing to do so, or abide by this policy, may be subject to disciplinary action or cancelation of their contract.

Identifying Areas of Conflict

In2Assessments acknowledges that it is not always possible to pre-empt when a conflict of interest could arise, and this policy is not designed to cover every eventuality. Generally, there will be a conflict of interest if an individual’s interest and/or loyalties conflict with In2Assessments developing, delivering and awarding EPAs.  

Conflicts of interest will be identified by In2Assessments on an ongoing basis by the the Head of Assessment.  The Conflict of Interest Register is subject to on-going review and is subject to scrutiny by the Governance Committee.

Generally, the main areas where conflict might occur are identified as follows:

 

  • Third Parties - Potential conflicts with external contracted third parties such as Assessors or assessment authors.  

  • Relationships between In2Assessments and companies in the Inspiring Learning Group - these include a number of training providers.

  • Governance, Management and Staff - Potential conflicts with In2Assessments Directors, employees and/or In2Assessments Governance Committee members.

 

These conflicts can also arise through the interests, work or relationships of household members, friends/family and close associates. Conflicts relating to another individual should also be disclosed.

Minimising and Preventing Conflicts

In2Assessments strives to ensure it minimises and prevents conflicts where possible by:

  • avoiding arrangements that may reduce competition or create exclusive arrangements

  • avoiding practices that could be construed as anti-competitive or restrictive practice

  • avoiding conflicts of interests in assessment to ensure that assessors are not carrying out assessments in which they have a personal interest

  • providing the In2Assessments stakeholders with objective advice on the viability of qualifications development and availability of qualifications for the needs of the sector

  • enabling open and frank dialogue between teams within In2Assessments

  • avoiding any conflict of interest that may lead to an adverse effect (as defined by Ofqual), and to mitigate the impact of any adverse effect, should one occur.

Although this list is not exhaustive, it is felt that by adhering to the principles of neutrality, openness and fairness, conflicts can be avoided or managed without compromising the integrity of the individual or the organisation concerned.

How In2Assessments Manage and Monitor Conflicts of Interest

In2Assessments maintains a Conflict-of-Interest Register managed and maintained by the Head of Assessments and is reviewed at each quarterly meeting of the Governance Committee.   

Quarterly reports are submitted to the Governance Committee of potential conflicts of interest for discussion and action (any potential conflicts identified between meetings would be subject either to an Extraordinary Governance Board Meeting, or decision by the Chair depending on the severity or nature of the conflict require it).

Checks with Governance Board members, Directors, employees or Assessors that any changes to roles and responsibilities do not indicate a potential conflict.

How we identify and manage conflicts of interest

​As an employer, In2assessments starts from a position of trusting the professionalism of the staff it employs, and this trust underlies any attempt to handle questions which raise potential conflicts of interests.

In summary, the Conflicts of Interest are managed in a three-fold approach:

  • Disclose always

  • Manage the conflict in most cases

  • Prohibit the activity when necessary to protect the interests of In2assessments

  1. Process

    1. Employees are responsible for disclosing potential conflicts of interest, and/or commitment. Reporting mechanisms for disclosure should begin with the individual’s line manager and through them to the Head of In2assessments, or in cases of the Governing Body or members of the Governing Committee, these should be submitted for other members of the Governing Committee to record and action. In all cases the disclosure and its outcome shall be noted. Where a real or potential conflict of interest exists this, together with the agreed outcome, shall be noted on the individual’s personal file.

    2.  Consultants to In2assessments are also required to divulge and personal or family financial holdings or situations that could create a conflict of interest and/or introduce bias into their professional judgement. Such disclosure should be made to In2assessments, and appropriate determination shall be made on the management of any conflict.

    3. Disclosure in all cases shall include the type of potential conflict (conflict of interest or commitment), the nature of the activity, a description of all parties involved, the potential financial interests and rewards, possible violations of legal requirements, and any other information which the employee feels necessary to evaluate the disclosure. The line manager shall advise the Head of In2assessments of all disclosures.  The Head of In2assessments also may serve as an advisor to staff members who are uncertain regarding the appropriateness of a given activity or management of a given disclosure issue. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the Head of In2assessments to be familiar with In2assessments policy, and with general legal requirements so as to understand fully the implications of the situation in question. The Head of In2assessments may need to consult or engage with others to advise on issues of budget, finance, and technology transfer, as appropriate.

    4. After appropriate evaluation, the line manager may find that a proposed situation or an employee’s personal interests show no conflict or apparent conflict and are acceptable without further review. Conversely, the line manager may determine that a given situation raises some questions of propriety and requires a higher level of review. For each situation, the line manager shall create a written record of his or her determination that the situation either is acceptable, unacceptable, or requires review at a higher level.

    5. The tables below indicate the levels at which review should take place for all staff, with any individual always disclosing to their line manager, and that line manager referring the case to the next higher level of management as appropriate:

Employee’s or contracted staff of In2assessments:

Member of staff

Line Manager (EPA Manager)

Head of In2assessments

Governing Committee

 

Senior Members of In2assessments:

Head of In2assessments

Governing Committee

 

  1. Evaluating Disclosures

    1. Those evaluating disclosures at each level of review need a framework for determining the permissibility of activities and for assessing the degree to which disclosed activities may pose a risk to the staff member, the organisation, and other entities that may be affected. The appendix to this document list simple questions for use in evaluating potential conflicts of interest or commitment. The list is not exhaustive and other questions related to special circumstances should be added as appropriate.

    2. When presented with the facts of a given situation, the reviewer must determine if there is a legitimate cause for concern related to the inappropriateness of behaviour or evidence of bias by the professional activities of the staff member. The list of questions in Appendix A is suggested for this initial determination.

    3. If it appears that there is genuine cause for concern, the reviewer must ascertain whether appropriate controls are in place to deal with possible conflicts.

    4. If the reviewer is uncertain as to the correct way in which to deal with a situation, they should refer the matter to the next level of management or consult the appropriate body or department for advice.

    5. The consequences of failure to comply with these regulations will be dealt by the line manager, including where necessary via appropriate disciplinary procedures.

Conflicts of Interest Regulations – Appendix A

Questions for evaluating potential conflicts of interest

 

  1. Has all relevant information concerning the staff member’s activities been acquired (i.e., has there been full disclosure)?

  2. Do the staff member’s relevant financial interests suggest the potential for conflicts or the appearance of conflicts or bias?

  3. Do the staff member’s reported time commitments exceed permissible levels?

  4. Is there any indication that the staff member in his or her professional role has improperly favoured any outside entity or appears to have an incentive to do so?

  5. Has the staff member inappropriately represented In2assessments to outside entities?

  6. Does the staff member appear to be subject to incentives that might lead to conflicts of interests or bias?

  7. Is the staff member involved in a situation that might raise questions of bias, inappropriate use of In2assessments assets, or other impropriety?

  8. Could the staff member’s circumstances represent any possible violation of applicable legal requirements?

  9. Do the current engagements of the staff member represent potential conflicts between outside interests (e.g., working on projects simultaneously for competing business entities)?

  10. Could the proposed activity withstand public scrutiny?

 

 

Conflicts of Interests Regulations Appendix B

Register of interests

 

Where the possibility of conflicts of interests exists, it is universally accepted that prior declaration by all parties of their interest is essential. A Register of Interests is kept of the personal interests of staff, both full and part time, which overlap with the interests of In2assessments. Thus, members of staff, in addition to declaring their interests as employees of In2assessments are asked to provide details of work carried out externally that may have impact on the work of In2assessments. This includes any directorships, consultancy, or committee membership that a director or senior manager may have in addition to their role with In2assessments. For those involved in the assessment process, they should declare any prior involvement internal or external in the training and assessment of apprentices within the sectors they are being contracted to assess.

 

On Recruitment

All employees, Committee Members and freelance are required to declare any external or internal conflicts of interest prior to undertaking their potential position. This will be sought on acceptance of the post or contractual dates.

 

Annual Return

All members of staff are required to complete and submit, or review and confirm, an Annual Return in October of each year. Please note a null return is required if there are no relevant external interests.

 

Prior to submission the Return may be discussed with your line manager or with the Head of In2assessments, who is best placed to understand how external activities overlap with In2assessments activities.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This Return does not in any way replace or supersede the requirement for staff to seek permission from the Head of In2assessments or the EPA Manager for certain activities, as set out in the terms and conditions of the contract.

 

In addition, staff are reminded that failure to declare a significant interest is potentially a disciplinary matter and therefore staff are advised to declare such an interest if they are in any doubt about its relevance or materiality.

Appendix C - Conflicts of Interest: Declaration

Appendix D - Conflicts of Interests: Change in Circumstances

Appendix E:  Subcontractor register of Interests

Appendix F: Employee Register of Interest

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